Visitors returning to the Walla Walla Vintners tasting room will notice significant changes. But one thing we’ll never change is our commitment to producing the same elegant wines we have for the last 20 years. Great wine begins in the Vineyard. We source fruit not only from our own Estate Vineyard, but also from some of the oldest and most acclaimed vineyards in the Walla Walla and Columbia Valleys. We work directly with these growers to ensure the highest quality fruit, monitoring our blocks and rows throughout the growing season, many of which we’ve been working with since the winery opened its doors in 1995. Small lot fermentations, punch-downs, and our small basket press all promote gentle extraction of color and skin tannins without the harsh and bitter seed tannins. Oak aging provides the ideal conditions for the flavors to develop, while using barrels from several different cooperages allows us to add subtle layers of oak tannin and aromas to the final blend. Lastly, by blending varietals and lots from different vineyard sites, we can combine those specific flavor profiles into the bottle you see before you.
Walla Walla Vintners started in 1995 when pioneering winemakers, Gordy Venneri and Myles Anderson established the eighth winery in what would become one of Washington’s most celebrated appellations. Over the next two decades, we earned a reputation for our sustainably and traditionally crafted, elegant and ageworthy wines served in a beautifully rustic and friendly setting (on a picturesque plateau in the shadow of the Blue Mountains). In 2016, we were honored to be named “Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year” by Wine Press Northwest. And we began a new chapter a year later, when Myles and Gordy decided it was time to officially retire and welcomed the Haladay family as owners; continuing our tradition of being a family run winery.
Today, Scott Haladay along with winemaker Derrek Vipond, are working in concert to maintain the best of the Walla Walla Vintners traditions inspired by our founders, supplemented by Derrek’s ample experience and focus on precision winemaking.
Our story began in 1981 with two friends who started as winemaking hobbyists. Gordy Venneri is a second-generation Walla Wallan and former insurance salesman whose roots go back to the small southern Italian village of Serra Pedace in Calabria. His inspiration was a life-changing trip to meet his Italian relatives who shared their homemade wine. Dr. Myles Anderson was a college professor and administrator who enjoyed wine and started making small amounts for fun.
Gordy and Myles found themselves in the elite company of Walla Walla’s pioneering winemakers including Gary Figgins of Leonetti and Rick Small of Woodward Canyon. Fifteen years later with much experimentation and industry collaboration instructing them, and praise for the wines growing, they founded Walla Walla Vintners in 1995 with 675 cases.
Over the years, the partners kept their focus on limited production, labor-intensive, hand-crafted, high quality and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Sangiovese. Respected wine critic and writer, Paul Gregutt, describes their wines as “seductive, soft and round in the Leonetti mold.”
The tradition of a humble approach and special commitment to Walla Walla and fellow wine makers remains. Gordy and Myles are well known for their generous, collaborative spirit, sharing their knowledge with other wineries – describing their philosophy as “competing creatively.” That belief in helping others and giving back inspired Myles to help create the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College. And it motivated them to assist other wineries as they were getting their start including K Vintners, Spring Valley Vineyards, College Cellars and àMaurice.
Before retiring in early 2017, Dr. Myles Anderson was inducted into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame in 2011 and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers in 2014. He and Gordy shared the honor of being named “2016 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year” by Wine Press Northwest.
Scott comes to Walla Walla Vintners after a 20 year career in the technology sector including 10 developing and implementing software for beer and wine distributors. He had been searching for a winery for a while when he was introduced to Gordy and Myles the summer of 2016, and immediately knew he found something very special. He will continue to focus the winery’s efforts on maintaining many important traditions like our pioneering history, elegant winemaking and humble approach, while enhancing the customer experience.
In 2017, after over 20 years of serving Walla Walla Vintners customers, Myles retired. Over the last phase of his career Myles always had two roles. He was a partner and founder of Walla Walla Vintners and helped start, then run, the Walla Walla Community College Viniculture and Enology program. His career was capped off by two prestigious honors: in 2011 Myles was inducted into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame and was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers in 2014. Myles did all he could to help foster the collaboration and growth of the Walla Walla winemaking community. Despite being retired, Myles still enjoys coming out the winery to see friends and customers as well as be a part of blending trials.
As Winemaker, Derrek oversees our wines from the time the grapes form on the vine until the finished product is bottled. He collaborates with our vineyard managers as well as directly oversees fermentations, barrel selections and blending trials; manages monitoring and maintaining wines during the ageing process. Derrek began his career at Abeja in 2005 while attending the Institute for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College and now joins us following three years as Assistant Winemaker at Long Shadows Vintners. Vipond’s additional winemaking experiences include harvests in Western Australia’s Willow Bridge Estate and Napa Valley’s Louis M. Martini Winery, plus internship and cellar positions at Hogue Cellars and Forgeron Cellars in Washington. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Technology with a concentration in Fermentation from Oregon State University in 2011. Derrek tirelessly focuses to ensure that each wine has depth and complexity through using a mix of over a dozen different coopers and blending different vineyards and varietals to achieve a consistent and elegant result.
Gordy worked tirelessly to ensure that Walla Walla Vintners held a special place in many peoples' hearts. “I am very grateful for all that Myles and I accomplished together. We founded Walla Walla’s eighth winery and helped make history in one of America’s most exciting and dynamic wine regions.” Going forward, he is going to be looking over William's shoulder from time to time to ensuring that the Vintners wines adhere to the style and approach that makes the winery unique.
Sam joined the Vintners Family in the beginning of 2017 while attending the renowned Institute of Enology and Viticulture in Walla Walla. It wasn’t long until Sam worked his way up from the winery’s intern to the Assistant Winemaker while still completing his degree in Enology and Viticulture. Wine had not always been a part of Sam’s life however. Sam grew up in Bellingham, WA but spent 10 years travelling and working overseas. He gained a Bachelors of Counter Terrorism, Security and Intelligence from Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and it was here that Sam discovered wine. Just 3.5 hours south of Perth is the stunning wine country of Margaret River and all it took was a weekend of wine tasting to ignite Sam’s passion for wine and it’s connection to food and culture. After first living in Germany for a year then, living and working in China for 3.5 years running an import/export company it was finally time to choose a career that promoted a healthy happy lifestyle. This led him back to his home state of WA but to an area he had never explored, the gorgeous and quaint Walla Walla.
Moose joined the Walla Walla Vintners family after being adopted from the Coyote Ridge Correctional Facility, where he was paired with an inmate to train him up into the dog we know today. In addition to being educated about prison life, he learned how to sit and stay and a few other things, assuming treats were provided. Prior to being behind bars, Moose was with the Adams County Pet Rescue, where he was recovering from being in an abusive home. Our Assistant Winemaker Sam adopted Moose at 10 months old, and the transformation in his personality from then to now has been amazing. He is still shy with newcomers, but after getting warmed up he loves to play fetch and tug of war and will gladly accept butt scratches and treats (beef jerky preferred). Thanks to all the love he gets daily, Moose has turned into an invaluable part of the Vintners winemaking team, where he works hard every doggone day. Just don’t get in his way when he’s driving the forklift! In Moose’s free time you’ll find him going on hikes, swimming and wrestling with other pups.
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